Talking to Narcissistic Abuse Victim, Coach (with Michelle Ecret)

Uploaded 2/13/2024, approx. 49 minute read

My journey began about two and a half years ago. I woke up from the fog of the narcissistic relationship. I was 47 at the time. I'm 49 now. Turns out my life was led by a codependent part.

I woke up and you were one of the people that I started following. During the relationship, I was Googling things like, "Why is my spouse controlling? Why are they so critical? Why do they have to be right all of the time?" It was really the discard Googling that behavior that really put it all together for me.

I've just been down a journey of realizing how unconsciously aware I was, all of my parts, coming back into myself. It's been painful, but rewarding.

The work that my therapist did with me was IFS coaching and you and I talked about it. I watched your video on IFS. I have a few questions about that, especially the self.

Using IFS, I truly believe that we really do all have a self. I'd love to pick your brain about that. I learned how to coach it. I read Jay Earley's book. I've read No Bad Parts, Transcending Trauma, I did some courses and things like that. It's very powerful what it does to bring people.

What I love about it is that it's a compassionate approach.

When we get out of the relationship with a narcissist, we're so hard on ourselves because I'm sure you'll have better insights on that than I do.

From what I take from watching your videos and things is that we basically, from the reparenting aspect, from our own repetition, compulsion, they became our parent.

All of my parts protected me from not feeling my unworthiness, but they were no match for the narcissist.

What's your take on that?

Would that be correct in assuming that?

I think it's simpler than that.

The narcissist regresses you to infancy. Because he regresses you to infancy, most of the parts that serve you as an adult, most of the reprotective parts, they're disabled.

Simply disabled. It's time to travel. You find yourself in the position of an infant with a narcissist fulfilling the maternal role, the mother role, even if a narcissist is a male.

The maternal role, in the sense that the narcissist idealizes you the same way a mother idealizes the newborn, the narcissist offers you on the face of it, unconditional acceptance and love.

The same way a mother, initially at least, offers the same to her newborn.

The narcissist fulfills a maternal role and the condition is that you should regress yourself, should become an infant and therefore it should become dependent on the narcissist.

You should suspend autonomy, personal autonomy, agency. You should not conflict with your idealized version.

The narcissist, as I said, idealizes you and then he internalizes this idealized image. This process is known as introjection.

Then the narcissist coerces you to conform to the idealized image. Whenever you diverge or deviate from the idealized image, the narcissist becomes punitive and rejecting.

The same way a bad mother does, because it's the only model he has. And so you'll find yourself infantilized, increasingly more infantilized, increasingly more dependent.

You regulate your internal environment via the agent, via the good services or the bad services or the agency of the narcissist.

The narcissist stabilizes your moods or dysregulates you as he sees heat. The narcissist becomes your reality testing. You begin to see the world through the narcissist's eyes. You see yourself through the narcissist's gaze. You perceive yourself through the narcissist's gaze. And because initially at least you're idealized, holding yourself or perceiving yourself through the narcissist's gaze is a very gratifying experience. It's very flattering because you can do no wrong. You're drop dead gorgeous, you're hyper intelligent and so on and so forth. And no one can resist this. No one. Especially when one is an infant.

So it's a perfect storm. You are regressed and then you're exposed to such an onslaught of maternal perceptions, maternal signaling, maternal communications, maternal behaviors that essentially you're experiencing a second childhood.

But this time with someone who keeps telling you that you are perfection, reified and that you're Godlike, exactly like him. So this is a process of co-idealization. He idealizes you and by idealizing you, he idealizes himself.

And you create together a fantasy. This is known as a shared fantasy. Create together a fantasy within which you inhabit. It's a form of a narrative, a movie, equivalent of a movie or a theater production.

And within this fantasy, you essentially reject reality, you confront reality, you constrict your life. Your life becomes more narrow, a kind of tunnel vision.

And this is very reminiscent of the dynamics of a cult. And that is why we use terms, psychological terms, clinical terms borrowed from the psychology of cults.

For example, trauma bonding is a term borrowed from cults because it is a cult. It is a cult. He's the leader, you're the follower. It's a private religion because the narcissist's false self is Godlike. He transforms you into a kind of deity or divinity in his mind and then gives you access to this image of you.

And you buy into it because it's very narcissistically satisfying. And so gradually you become so detached from reality, so helpless.

This is known as learned helplessness, so helpless and so terrified of abandonment and of finding yourself a baby without the support of the narcissist, without the filtering or the membrane that the narcissist provides.

And this is a really terrifying prospect. So victims at that stage tend to catastrophize.

And then the nightmare becomes true. The narcissist devalues, discards you for his own reasons. This has nothing to do with you. There was nothing you could have done to prevent this. It is an autonomous unfolding of the shared fantasies. It's a built-in feature. He needs to devalue you and discard you precisely because you're a maternal figure and he needs to get rid of his mother once and for all.

You know, I've watched your videos on that cycle of his need for repetition of compulsion. Can you just briefly go over that again?

His cycle of abuse basically is his cycle of the need to separate and individuate.

Yeah. There are no studies at this stage. There are no serious and rigorous studies at least that support the contention that narcissism is genetic or that it has to do anything to do with abnormalities in the brain.

The same way, for example, psychopathy does. Psychopathy definitely has a genetic component and involves serious abnormalities, structural and functional in the brain. Same applies to borderline personality disorder.

However, when we deal with narcissistic personality disorder, we don't have this. We fail to find it.

I'm pretty convinced that there is a genetic component.

For the simple reason that twins are exposed to the very same parental treatment and one of them becomes a narcissist and the other doesn't, let alone siblings. So this is strongly indicative of some genetic template.

However, we fail to find it.

As far as brain abnormalities, there are some laughable studies that try to claim that there are some structural abnormalities in the brains of narcissists. They are bordering on artistry. I wouldn't take that as science in any way, shape or form.

However, what is common to all narcissists is what we call adverse childhood experiences. Experiences in childhood which have been traumatic or perceived as traumatic by the child and at any rate have been abusive.

Now, when we say abuse, it's not limited to physical abuse or sexual abuse or psychological abuse or verbal abuse. These are the classics.

Actually, the vast majority of narcissists have not been exposed to any of these. They've been exposed to alternative forms of abuse which fly under the radar are much more subtle and surreptitious.

For example, pedestalizing and idolizing the child, smothering, spoiling and pampering the child. These are forms of abuse because they prevent the child from having any contact with reality and from bearing the consequences of his or her own actions.

This prevents growth. The child is unable to grow because we grow only through adversity, through conflict, through loss and through the friction with reality.

So when you idolize the child, when you tell the child you can do no wrong, you're perfect, you're brilliant, you're amazing, you're... Everyone else is to blame for your mishaps and your misfortunes and your failures.

This is abusive. This is absolutely abusive.

When you instrumentalize the child, when you force the child to fulfill your own unfulfilling dreams and wishes, that's abusive. When you parentify the child, when you treat the child as your own parent and force the child to become your spousal substitute, you know, this is abusive. This is much more common than the other variety.

Now who does... What kind of parent behaves in these ways? These are insecure parents, especially mothers. The overwhelmingly default is with mothers, not with fathers, because fathers come into the picture much later in development.

Mothers are critical in the first 36 months when narcissism is formed. So it's mothers, essentially. These are mothers who are insecure and so unable to let the child go, unwilling to let the child separate and become an individual. They're terrified of remaining alone or losing control or what have you. They treat the child as an extension, a figment of imagination or fantasy.

So these are mothers who are what Andrei Green, the psychoanalyst, called dead mothers, metaphorically dead mothers. So they are emotionally absent, for example. They're selfish, they're depressive, they overbearing and overprotective, they're controlling, they're instrumentalized, they're parentified.

Now the kind of what Winnie Cott called not good enough mother. And then the child has two options basically, faces two options.

Option number one, the child can adopt the role of a victim through a process known as splitting. The child says mother is all good, so that must mean that I'm all bad.

And because I'm all bad, I deserve this treatment. I deserve this. It makes sense to me.

So the child adopts the role of a victim and becomes later in life a codependent or a people pleaser and so on.

And the other option is the child says, I'm going to be the abuser from now. I'm not going to, I'm never going to be abused again. I'm going to abuse everyone else.

And the child becomes a narcissist or even in more extreme cases, a psychopath, antisocial.

So these are the two choices.

Luckily for us, a tiny fraction of children choose to become narcissists, it's a choice, by the way, choose to become narcissists and vast majority remain either healthy or dependent or people pleaser, much more tolerable.

And it's dangerous. But these, these narcissistic children.

So the choice is I'm going to become the abuser from now. But how can you how, how is this doable? How is this feasible?

When you're a helpless, helpless little thing, constantly tortured and tormented and abused and you know, pushed around, you need to divorce reality.

The only way for you as a child to become the equivalent of your abuser, to become as powerful as your abuser is if you deny reality.

And so you develop as a child, a very strong fantasy defense, you create a power course, a virtual reality within which you lie to yourself that you're as powerful as all knowing, as perfect, as brilliant as your tormenting parental figure.

And this, this stays for life. It's a coping mechanism that remains for life well into adulthood.

And so this is known as pathological narcissism. And the God like quality of the child is known as false self.

Because for the child to do this, the child needs to deny reality, but not only reality, the child needs to deny itself. The child says, as I am in reality, I'm a victim is I am in reality, I'm helpless. I'm small, I can't read adults, adult minds.

And so, so child says, I'm going to give up on all this. I'm going to give up on reality, but I'm also going to give up on myself as I am now.

And I'm going to become someone else. I'm going to become a Superman. I'm going to become a false the false self. And so it's very reminiscent of a God,

the false self is like a God. And the child makes human sacrifice, the child sacrifices itself to this God, and then becomes one with this God.

That's enough.

So the the fantasy is based upon the narcissist feeling like the victim in childhood.

So the fantasy is to lift themselves up to a state of one day, I'm, I'm going to be able to control and dominate my environment, the way my abuser is controlling and dominating my me.

Yeah, I'm never going to be vulnerable again. I'm not never going to hurt again. I'm not going to never going to experience pain again, I'm never going to put myself in a situation of inferiority or submissiveness, or exposure. I'm going to control my environment and control everyone in my environment and so on and so forth.

But to do all this, you need to be God like.

So I'm the child, re reinvents itself, re thinks itself into a God like existence. And from that moment on, this child clinically is a bit psychotic is is a child that's no longer embedded in reality. He has what we call impaired reality testing.

And indeed, the narcissist, the grown up narcissist, the adult narcissist is in very has a very tenuous connection to reality. He doesn't do reality well. He perceives himself wrongly. That is called grandiosity. He believes himself to be perfect and genius and amazing, and drop dead gorgeous and so forth.

So he has a misperception of himself. And he defends this misperception ferociously. If you dare to challenge this totally inflated, fantastic, idiotic self perception, he's going to lash back lash out, I mean, he's going to, you know, become aggressive, sometimes violent.

And similarly, the narcissist mistakes reality misreads reality, he misreads other people, other people's minds, because he has no access to positive emotions. He doesn't have empathy or emotional empathy, at least.

So he's unable to accurately decipher and decode other people.

For example, when you try to love the narcissist, he interprets it as manipulation, you're trying to manipulate him. When you offer the narcissist advice and help, he perceives this as a form of aggression. Because what you're saying is, you're not all powerful, you need heaven. You offer him advice, that means you know better than than he does.

So that means he's not omniscient, he's not all knowing, you're challenging him. That's an act of aggression.

Everything in the narcissist's mind is topsy turvy. It's a world upside down.

And so that's why people keep failing and keep being astounded and keep being shocked, and so on and so forth. Because they think they think normal, even when narcissists go attend therapy, for example, not just goes to therapy.

So you have this multi degree therapists and clinicians, and they talk to the narcissist and they try to strike an alliance with the narcissist, it's known as therapeutic alliance. And they try to design together with the narcissist a treatment plan with treatment goals. And they don't realize that the narcissist is a child. It's a stunted, stunted child. The narcissist is four years old, maybe, in the vast majority of cases, it's four year old.

And so to negotiate with the narcissist and alliance to agree on a treatment plan, that's beyond the deal. It's inane. And so even even therapists, even clinicians make this mistake. They it's extremely difficult to understand.

Three facts about the narcissist.

Number one, there's nobody there. Narcissist, the narcissist is an absence pretending to be a presence. Nothing there. It's all imported from the outside. It's like a country that has no natural resources and has to import everything from outside cars, bread, you name it, everything comes from outside.

Number two, the narcissist is unable to perceive you as separate and external. The narcissist doesn't do othering. He is unable to perceive you to perceive your separateness and externality. He regards you as an internal object inside his mind. Why? Because the narcissist has never experienced separating. He's never done through the experience of separating from mother.

So he's constantly embedded in a womb like matrix like symbiotic state. And he's unable to perceive you as outside himself. He regards you as an extension and avatar, something like that.

And this leads to problems with empathy and interacting with you, intimacy, and so forthbecause we don't exist. As far as the narcissist does not exist, then how can he love you? How can he have intimacy with you? How can he cater to your needs? How can he guess or evaluate your wishes, etc, etc.

And if you don't exist and you make demands, it's very annoying. Because you don't have a right to make demands. You don't exist.

Similarly, the narcissist does not exist. Narcissists don't do existence and they don't do separateness. So they can't attribute these qualities to you.

And finally, narcissists don't have a self. They don't have what Freud called an ego. Because an ego or a self takes time to form as a process of formation. And in the case of the narcissist, it is disrupted. The process is known as constellation and integration, which leads to the emergence of what we call the self or the ego, depending on the model.

These are disrupted in narcissism. So narcissists need to outsource the functions of the self or the functions of the ego. They need to have other people do it for them. This is known as external regulation. And that's the case also in borderline personality.

When you don't have an internal machinery, then you need to rely on other people's machinery. And this is why the narcissist, for example, is very compulsive about obtaining narcissistic supply. Narcissistic supply is an affirmation that the narcissist's false self is not false and is a self.

So it's as if the narcissist needs you to keep telling him, I see you, you do exist. I see you, you do exist. And you exist exactly the way you think that you exist. Exactly the way if you think you're a genius, you're right. You are a genius. You think you are drop dead gorgeous, you're right, you're drop dead gorgeous. So you're not lying to yourself. You're not self deceiving.

And narcissists need this feedback constantly. And they force people to give them this feedback. And they punish people who don't. I left it. Because there's nothing there.

Imagine the horror of waking up one morning and realizing you're not there. There's nobody there. It's terrifying. The only way I can relate to it is at about nine months into my healing, I woke up and realized like my people pleaser, realizing my whole entire life, I had two emotions, happy or angry. And everything was driven off of me needing to be seen as a good person. So avoiding conflict and you know, just everything about me, I woke up realizing everything about me was how the outside world saw me and no awareness of how I'd seen myself.

And so that's the only way that I like when I relate to a narcissist void is how is the comprehension that I have. The need to be seen is very primordial, very primitive. It's a survival strategy.

Because a baby, a baby who is not seen is a dead baby. The baby needs to attract the mother's attention or the father's attention, the caregivers attention. Because otherwise the baby will not be fed.

Babies are born with mechanisms to attract attentions. They are known as queuing mechanisms. Babies are born. They know they have to cry. They know they have to make a smiley face. They know these are all intended to provoke attention, to garner attention.

So this is a very primitive survival thing. And when you grow up in an environment which is dysfunctional, inattentive, neglectful, abusive, traumatizing, whatever, there is a deficiency in being seen. You're not seen, or you're not seen properly.

Because if you are seen as an instrument or an object, that's not the same as being seen as you.

Right. It's not you. It's your utility that is seen.

So we need to be seen as who we are. Not as what we can accomplish.

While in dysfunctional families, love and being seen are conditioned on performance of one kind or another. So people who, people pleases, co-dependence, narcissist, I mean, what's common to all of them, borderlines, of course, what's common to all of them is the need to be seen, but they adopt different strategies to obtain this outcome.

The narcissist believes that there is a direct connection between being seen and accomplishments, performance. So the narcissist tries to perform in a variety of ways. If he cannot make it, he fakes it. But one way or another, he performs. He's a performer. He's an actor.

The people pleaser believes that if you were to cater to other people's needs, please them and so on and so forth, they will notice you. They will pay attention to you. They will see you somehow. And that's also a performance-based system. It's also about performance.

The borderline resorts to something called external regulation. She uses the intimate partner. 40, 50% of all borderlines are men. Borderlines use the intimate partner in order to regulate their internal environment, their moods, their emotionsand so on and so forth. And they do this by becoming helpless.

So exactly like co-dependence, they use helplessness, neediness in order to emotionally blackmail the partner, the intimate partner or the friend to actually regulate them.

So the borderline could say, "I can't live without you." The co-dependent would say, "Wow, you're so wonderful. Only you can fix this. I can't fix it."

So there's a lot of ostentatious helplessness and neediness.

Mothers do this. Mostly, mothers use this kind of emotional blackmail when they are dead mothers, when they are, as I said, insecure and they refuse to let the child separate and become an individual, walk away.

A good mother pushes the child away. It is a myth, a very deleterious, very bad myth, that a mother should kind of love the child, never let the child go, support the child, have the child's back. This is seriously wrong parental advice.

Terri is really wrong. A mother is not a friend. This is what friends do. The mother's role is to push the child away, to expose the child to frustration, to adversity, to loss, to pain, to hurt, to his fears, to rejection, to the harsh aspects of reality. That's a mother's role. These are the three conditions, cynical and borderline for growth.

If the mother wants to try to grow and become an adult, happy, functioning, balanced adult, she must allow the child to walk away from her.

But many mothers can't. So they emotionally blackmail the child. You know the kind of mothers who say, "If you leave me, I will die," or "If I can't leave without you," or "I sacrifice so much of my life for you, you owe me." You know these kind of mothers. This is emotionally blackmail. This is what codependents do. This is what borderline is doing.

The narcissist comes from a position of strength, because he's the abuser now. So he comes from a position of strength. He says, "I'm a winner. I have so many accomplishments. I'm powerful. I'm rich. I'm a genius." So he comes from a position of control. He says, "Now you owe me because I'm superiority. You owe me by way of hierarchy. There's a hierarchy here. That's Jordan Peterson's lobsters. You owe me by way of hierarchy. Jordan Peterson's work is highly narcissistic in business. Absolutely.

And I think also when they come in, for me personally, it was they come in as, or especially the last narcissist comes in as someone who, to us, is perceived as at least they don't. We've had a history of maybe physical abuse or a relationship that was dull, boring but dull. And then they come in with this charisma, but then they have to me or to us, it's like this specialness that at least they don't do this. And we hold them higher than life itself. We find that one thing and hold them to that. And then we live that, the entire relationship, holding on to that belief of who we think they are and works for them.

We should not underestimate the mental health issues of the victims.

If you are a thrill seeker, if you need excitement, if you're an adrenaline junkie, then the narcissist is your dream come true. If you're insecure, then the narcissist overconfidence, ostentatious overconfidence, is an anxiolytic effect, reduces your anxiety.

If you have never experienced a happy childhood with essentially unconditional maternal love and so on and so forth, then the narcissist is here and he tells you, I love you as a mother would because you're ideal, absolutely ideal, you're perfect, you're perfection. And it's very appealing because it's a chance at a second childhood with a different resolution, happiness.

If you are fixated on the future, if you tend to catastrophize, for example, or anticipate catastrophe, or you tend to resent or hate your present because your present is dull, colorless, I don't know what, disappointing doesn't match your expectations and hopes and dreams.

The narcissist comes in and offers you a future.

So narcissist is a petals of future. He doesn't future fake, there's a common mistake online, psychopaths future fake. The narcissist believes his own promises, he absolutely believes them.

And in this sense, he's as deluded as you are, he's in it, he's in the fantasy exactly as you are.

But it's a fact that he handles the future, he offers you a future.

And the future is offering you is so dramatically different to your present. That's an irresistible proposition.

It's like a way out. Suddenly, the world transitions from black and white to technicolor. The world is colorful again.

So if you're this kind of person who is essentially depressed, because what I've just described is depression.

If you're depressed because of your present, the narcissist offers you an antidepressant in the form of a narcissist big fantastic future.

The narcissist comes along, he scans you something called called empathyI coined to describe cognitive empathy and reflexive empathy without emotional empathy.

So the narcissist scans you using empathy. And he spots all your buttons. He knows which buttons to push all your vulnerabilities, all your broken dreams, all your shattered hopes, all your pain, all your anguish, everything in maxi we creates a perfect map of you.

And then he knows how to manipulate and he does. He does because exactly like a psychopath, the narcissist is callous and relentless and ruthless and merciless and so on.

So he pushes, he plays you as he would and musical instrument. He plays on your pain. He plays on your fears. He plays on your hurt. He plays on your hopes. And he leads you like a pied piper. He leads you to his fantasy, to this promised land of the fantasy of the shared fantasy.

And very few people can resist this even healthy people, mentally healthy people. It's a myth that only broken damage people fall for narcissists. That's nonsense. Even other narcissists fall for narcissism. Even psychopaths fall for narcissists. Who can resist the fantasy reality sucks. Reality sucks big time. Who can resist an alternative? Why do we watch movies? Studies have shown that when we watch a movie, there's a process known as dissociation. Dissociation is when we cut off the world. We ignore the world. That's why when we watch a horror movie, we jump. We jump with starfall. There's a startled response because we are not aware that we are in reality. We are actually in the movie.

So why do we watch movies? Because it gives us a short respite away from reality. I don't know if you have noticed that movies are becoming longer and longer and longer. I'm not kidding. Most movies now are like two and a half hours, three hours. I think we need to get away from reality for us.

And everyone's binge binge watching serious. You know, everyone wants away from reality. The narcissist is the Netflix of the mind. The Netflix of the mind. Simple. He is the perfect combination, perfect package of entertainment and redemption. And it has religious overtones and it has contemporary undertones. And it's a package that is irresistible.

I don't know a single person who could resist a narcissist. Not me now. Well, that remains to be seen because regrettably, the statistics show that once you've been exposed to a narcissist, you're actually desensitized, not sensitized.

In other words, exposure to narcissist makes you more prone to end up with a narcissist rather than less.

It's very bizarre phenomenon, but it's pretty well documented.

Are those statistics? I would assume that those statistics would be without having done any healing between narcissists. There's no such distinction. Even if you go in forums, anecdotally, most women there, or most people there, not only women, would say, you know, I've had three narcissistic partners or five narcissistic partners. It seems that awareness, self-awareness, awareness of who is a narcissist, knowledge even, or even scholarship, they don't provide immunity. There's no vaccination, it seems.

No vaccination. Now, in a minute, this is going to shut itself off.

Okay. So what you have to do is wait for five minutes. In five minutes, hence, if you wish to continue, click the same link.

Okay. But you do have to wait for five minutes because it's saving in the background. It's saving the session in the background.

Okay. All right. Maybe you can answer this before it shuts off.

Sometimes when I work with my clients, we work on a healing fantasy protector. So they have a protective part that created a healing fantasy, and that's why it's so powerful and we get to know this healing fantasy.

Why is a fantasy so difficult to come out of?

Okay. So let us exit the session. Okay. Wait five minutes and we'll meet again.

So what?

Oh, go ahead. I remember your question.

Fantasy is a space. Initially, when the child is born, the child is unable to tell that there is an external world. As far as the child is concerned, the world and mother inside the world, they are one with the child. The child has this oceanic existence. The child encompasses everything and everything is the child. There are no boundaries, in other words. This condition is recreated in mental illness, for example, in psychotic disorders, psychotic illnesses.

The patient cannot tell the difference between themselves and the world. That's why when the psychotic patient has a voice inside his head, he actually thinks the voice is coming from the outside because there's no distinction. There's no difference between external objects and internal objects.

The fantasy space allows the child to gradually break the world apart, to separate from the world, to realize that there is a world out there. Mommy is also external, not part of the child, not in what used to be called the symbiotic phase.

So, and the fantasy makes it safe. It's an experimental sandbox where the child can play with variations of a worldview, of variations of what is called an internal working model.

The child also, within the fantasy, creates theories about other people, how other people's minds work, what makes people tick. This is known as theory of mind.

And so fantasy is an integral part of the transition from self-absorption, which used to be called narcissistic libido, from self-absorption to the realization that there are other people out there. They're external, they're separate, and one could interact with them. One could have a relationship with them, and this is known as object relations.

So from narcissistic libido to object. So the child transitions from being fully immersed inside himself to actually accepting the existence of other people.

And all this is done within fantasy.

Take, for example, the imaginary friend. Many children have imaginary friends. They talk to them, they interact with the given names. They have a whole life with these imaginary friends. These imaginary friends represent external people, other people, external objects.

Another example is what is known as the transitional object. You see children with teddy bears and blankets, and they refuse to let them go. They take the teddy bear to the shower, and they take the teddy bear to sleep. They sleep with the teddy bear. They talk to the teddy bear and so on.

The teddy bear or the tattered blanket or whatever it is, they are known as transitional objects, because they allow the child to transition from self immersion to object relations. In other words, the teddy bear represents something outside the child and allows the child to exercise relationships with a safe object.

An object will not hurt the child. And this is known as transitional object. These are all examples of fantasy space.

But when this is disrupted, when the usually the mother, but not always, but in the vast majority of cases, when the mother does not allow the child to separate, does not allow the child to realize that there are other people out there, that she is not one with a child, there's no merger, there's no fusion, that the child cannot control her because she's not a part of him, that frustration is inevitable.

And so his pain and loss when the mother refuses to allow the child to experience all this, the child simply remains stuck in fantasy and grows up and becomes a narcissist.

And you in the narcissist fantasy, you are a transitional object, like the teddy bear.

And narcissist uses you for the same function. Narcissist exercises on you. It's a rehearsal, dress rehearsal in the hope that he'll be able to separate from you, become an individual and then interact with real people. That tells you that you're not real. In the narcissist mind, you don't have a real existence. That's why narcissists are shocked when you accuse them of abuse and mistreatment and you're not real. You're avatar, you're, I don't know, an app. They find it very strange, annoying that you claim to have been mistreated. You don't have the right to make this claim. You're not a person. Yet, you're a teddy bear.

Imagine a teddy bear complaining.

So this is the power of fantasy. Without fantasy, we would remain stuck in the symbiotic phase, would never separate from mother or whoever. And we would never be able to interact with each other in any meaningful way.

Absolutely. No intimacy, no love, no children, no family, no nothing. Not fantasy.

Fantasy is crucial, critical. And it never leaves us. We continue to indulge in fantasies. Some of these fantasies are political fantasies for a tell. Others are literary fantasies. Movies are kind of fantasy and so on and so forth.

This is the power of fantasy. And for victims of narcissistic abuse who are in the relationships with narcissists, romantic relationships usually, or it probably could be children who have a hard time breaking away because they fantasize.

Is it the same concept? Why is it so difficult for us to let go of the fantasy? Is it a denial, protective part? What would it be on the end of us?

As I explained before, fantasy is much preferable to reality than any given day.

Just because then you have to feel.

Fantasy is tailored, fantasy is custom made. Reality pushes back. Reality challenges you, is harsh, is unforgiving, does not cater to your self-delusions and self-deceit and so on and so on.

Reality is, you have to accommodate reality. Reality never accommodates you.

Fantasy is tailor-made, is customized for you. It's handing love, it feeds you, it's wonderful, it's cozy, it's non-threatening, it's always obliging.

So fantasy is much preferable to reality, of course.

And it's difficult to let go of.

But with the narcissist, there's another issue and that's the issue of what is called prolonged grief. When you break up with the narcissist, you actually go through four separate processes of grieving. Whereas in a typical breakup, you usually grieve two elements. With the narcissist, you grieve four as a minimum. So in a typical breakup, you grieve the partner that you have lost and you grieve the relationship.

With the narcissist, you grieve the partner that you have lost, which is the narcissist.

Even narcissists have good sides. You miss these good sides. You would have liked to, you know, have kept them. You fail. There's a feeling of failure, there's self-castigating, self-criticism. So it's very, you know, so there is this.

I have lost my partner, I miss him, I love some aspects of him, some dimensions of him, some behaviors, some traits. I contributed to this.

So I feel a bit guilty, a bit ashamed. Maybe I feel that I've been a bit stupid. Maybe I haven't done enough. So there is this element. Then you mourn the relationship, which is again, an entity. The relationship is separate from the people involved in the relationship. It has a life of its own. It's an entity, it's a separate entity. And so you mourn the relationship.

But in narcissism, there are two additional processes of grieving.

Remember that the narcissist becomes your child. In the beginning of the relationship, the narcissist exposes you to his childlike aspects. He lets, he gives you access to the hurt, crying, damaged, wounded, grieving child.

And this provokes in your maternal instincts, even if you're men, even men like babies.

So it provokes in your maternal instincts and protective instincts. You want to hold this child, you want to hug this child, you want to calm this child down, you want to wipe this child's tears, you want to heal and fix this child with your love and intimacy.

Before you know it, you become this child's mother.

Narcissists know this. So they expose you to this child, which is in every narcissist, the core of every narcissist.

So you have to give up on your child.

When there's a breakup or discard, you're actually mourning your child.

And finally, you're mourning your idealized version.

By breaking up with the narcissist, you lose access to the idealized version of yourself that you had access to through the narcissist gaze.

The narcissist monopolizes this access. You can interact with your idealized version. You can fall in love with your idealized version. You can admire yourself. You can feel gratified. You can feel elated and excited and amazing and so on and so forth. But only through the narcissist gaze.

You don't love the narcissist because there's nobody there. What you do love is the way the narcissist loves you. You fall in love with the way the narcissist sees you. You're being seen in a way that has no competition, is improbable to any other experience. It's the most intense experience you're ever likely to have.

And so you miss this. You grieve this. You want it back. It's kind of addiction. It's like cold turkey. It's withdrawal symptoms.

For sure. So simultaneously, you have these four grieving processes.

We know, for example, that the broken heart syndrome is not a metaphor. There's real damage to the heart. That's a Japanese discovery.

And so it's real. It's not imagined. And this is a typical healthy breakup. A breakup between two healthy people. Even there, the damage is immense.

In the trauma scale, we have a trauma scale. The number one trauma is the loss of a child. The number two trauma is divorce. And here with the narcissist, you experience the loss of a child. You experience divorce. You experience the loss of a relationship. And you experience, above all, the loss of yourself because you're not the same. You're not the same after the relationship.

And you're totally disoriented. You can't find yourself anymore. You're not similar to the narcissist. You don't have a core any longer. You are unmoored. You're floating. You're drifting. And it seems as if you were you will drift forever.

There's also there's no hope. There's no so there's a lot of catastrophizing. It's a very bleak picture.

If you combine these four grieving processes, I think that narcissistic abuse is the number one trauma. And it exceeds the trauma of losing a child. That is why in the late 80s and early 90s, I coined the phrase narcissistic abuse. These people at the time scholars were asking me, there was decades ago, long before narcissism became a buzzword. You know, at that time, I remember that scholars asked me, why do you need to coin a new phrase? Why not say abuse by narcissist abuse by narcissist? I said no, because narcissistic abuse is a fundamentally different phenomenon. It's not the same like every other type of abuse.

Narcissist needs to annihilate you. He needs to negate you. He needs to eliminate you because he needs to convert you to an internal object and into a mother. And that is counterfactual. It's not true. So he needs to make sure that you don't conflict with this with this role that he assigns to you.

So he needs to mummify. It's like the famous movie, Psycho, Hitchcock's movie, where the guy, Norman Bates, he mummified his mother and he continued to interact with her in a shared fantasy.

So that's what the narcissist does to you.

First of all, he kills you, mentally. He kills you psychologically, completely. Then he mummifies you. Then he internalizes this Egyptian mummy and he continues to interact with his mummy in his mind.

And this is the core and the essence of narcissistic abuse.

During this process, since you collude in the shared fantasy, otherwise you wouldn't be there, you agree to this self-sacrifice. You become a human sacrifice, but with volition, willingly, you volunteer.

And the narcissist takes away your essence, takes away your heart, your soul, I don't know which metaphor you wish to use, takes away. He cannot afford, he cannot gamble, he cannot speculate on your obeisance, on your obedience, on your collaboration.

He doesn't do collaboration. He doesn't recognize you as external. So he cannot take the chance.

He needs you inanimate. He needs you dead. Simple.

So they take away your autonomy to keep you the way that they need to perceive you as the external object and to be able to deal with the internal object? They don't perceive you as external object, but they need you to not contradict or not conflict with the internal object.

Well, yeah. Okay. Because the internal object is unreal, counterfactual. They need you to cease to exist. They need you to stop living. Because life is changed. Life is unpredictable. Life is uncontrollable. Life is anything.

So as an internal object, for example, you will never abandon the narcissist. Narcissists have separation insecurity, abandonment anxieties, because they don't have object constancy. They don't perceive you as external. So you can disappear any minute, like a magic show.

So that as an internal object, narcissist feels safe. You will never abandon him as an internal object. You will never criticize him. You will never disagree with him as an internal object. He's in control.

But how can this work if you have your own life, your own friends, your own family, your own interests, your own pursuits, your own hobbies, your own profession? No way. No way.

So this is part of their need for their own repetition, compulsion to separate, right?

So they, we meet in the beginning, perfect idolization. They internalize that idolized object in their mind. They immediately start to, in their mind, discard the external object.

Control, not so much discard, but convert it, control it, kill it. I think it's so devalue it before the devaluation, to kill it, to render it an object, to inanimate object.

Okay. So that's where the objectification. Okay.

So then they, so they kill it in the mind. So then they, that's when devaluing. No, they don't kill it in the mind. They kill it in reality. Okay.

So what happens is there is an internal object, which is unrealized. And then the narcissist goes about killing you, destroying you mentally, rendering you an inanimate object, totally inert, totally dead, zombie-like.

And this he does in reality so that you don't conflict with the internal object. And this is known as narcissistic abuse.

And then comes the devaluation and so on. But this is in the idealization stage. And this is what I call coercive snapshotting. The narcissist snapshots you. So there's a snapshot. Then he photoshops the snapshot. This is idealization. And then he coerces you to become the snapshot. But the snapshot is dead. It's a photograph.

So he converts you from video to photo. He converts you into a still photograph in reality, not in his mind. Reality. He takes away your life. He deanimates you.

And then at some point, because the shared fantasy is about separating from mommy and becoming an individual, so he needs to separate from you.

And then to separate from you, he needs to devalue. This has nothing to do with the first stage.

First stage. Okay.

So it's, it's, it's, it's, it's idealizationand an immediate removal of view as the object. External, as an external object.

Okay. And so is there any, what would the dialogue, is there any dialogue or is it just an immediate, like of the killing of the object?

The narcissist first of all tests you. He wants to see whether you're a good mother. Will you love him unconditionally? Nevermind what he does. Will you accept him regardless of any egregious misbehavior?

So he tortures you, he abuses you, traumatized, he cheats on you. He, he tries everything to push you away.

Okay. And this is a test. If you keep on loving him, then you're a good mother. You love him unconditionally.

So there's a test element in his mind. I'm going to test him. He called, he's very paranoid. Nauseas is a very paranoid. So he constantly assumes that you are, I don't know, a gold digger or that you are manipulative or that you're, you are a narcissist, you're a psychopath. So he needs to test you all the time.

So this is a conscious element where he's testing you. Another conscious element is that he says to himself, she is too independent. She criticizes me all the time. She disagrees with me. That must mean that she's stupid or that she's evil and wicked. And so, so he begins, he begins to resent you for your personal autonomy and because it keeps undermining the idealized internal object.

This snapshot. And then he coerces you. Then you move into a stage of course, coercion. He coerces you.

So if you dare to criticize him, he becomes super punitive. He punishes you. He throws a temper tantrum. He withholds money and sex. He attacks you. He humiliates you in public. He does something to teach you a lesson. Never ever to criticize him again. If you dare to disagree with him, he demonstrates to you how stupid you are and so on.

So he conditions you. He creates what we call negative reinforcements. So gradually you learn the lesson. You say it's not worth it to disagree with him. I will never criticize him again. It's not worth the outcome. You know, she'll become submissive. You become obedient. You, you, you become your connections. You become intimate. You're intimidated. You're terrified. You are. So you want to please him. You want to, or maybe you're afraid of him. So whatever the reason may be, you become not you. You deny yourself. And the denial reaches the point that you become zombified. You become totally objectified. At that point, you match the idealized snapshot and there's a short honeymoon.

So when you're at your lowest, the narcissist is at his best because then you conform totally to how he sees you, the idealized image. And then it's time to move on to devaluation.

Now that you have proven yourself to be a good mother, now it's the time to separate an individual, something he has failed to do with his original mother.

But how to separate from you? You're an ideal object. How, why would anyone separate from an ideal object?

So that must mean that you are not an ideal object.

And then he starts to devalue you. And devaluation is preparation for the separation. And the only way to separate the narcissist can separate from you is by discarding you. The discard is a symbolic reenactment of childhood separation, individuation. That's why it's nonsense what people say online, that he separates from you because you see through him or he separates from you because you contradicted him or you separate from you because you conflicted with him, you disagree with him, you had a fight. Even if you are the most caring, compassionate, affectionate, loving, accepting, submissive, obedient person in the universe and in human history, you would have been devalued and discarded.

This has nothing to do with you. You could have done nothing about it.

This is an internal psychodynamic, internal dynamic that is unfolding inside the narcissist's demented mind. It's a crazy person. Stop trying to make sense of it. Everyone is trying to make sense of the narcissist.

He's evil, he's malicious, he's this, he's dead, he's a nutcase. Stop trying to make sense of it. It's crazy.

And that is distinct from the psychopath.

The psychopath is premeditated, is malevolent, is sadistic, is goal-oriented. Psychopaths are optimizing machines. That's why many criminals are psychopaths actually, not narcissists.

So people confuse psychopaths with narcissists because they want to make sense of everything. They want to believe in the essential goodness of people. They want to believe the world, the universe has some structure and some order and some rhyme and reason, some cause and effect.

No, the narcissist is a force of nature. You can't make much sense of a hurricane or a virus or a tiger. That's what the narcissist is. That's been your misfortune that you came across a narcissist.

And yes, narcissism is infectious. So regrettably, you carry narcissistic antibodies and narcissistic genes and everything in your mind. And it may erupt time and again.

In other words, you may acquire additional narcissistic problems. You may discover that you yourself became a big narcissistic. Your behavior is more narcissistic, you're less empathic, you are more psychopathic, antisocial. It wraps up fortunately for victims.

These are transient phenomena. And they are also easily treatable and so on. It's fortunate.

But it depends on the exposure. If you've been exposed to narcissists for 40 years, it's a long way to different areas. It's a lot of work to recover from this.

And I think I almost had to, I can see where I had narcissistic parts of me as a codependent people pleaser. But I can also see how I almost had to use, but there had to be this balance.

So instead of putting everybody's needs first, I had to separate from the relationship. I really had to become really narcissistic. I had to only focus on me. I had to split him as all bad to recover.

I had to idolize myself to lift myself back up. So I had to use some of these narcissistic stuff on myself to recover, but then eventually, I didn't want to stay there. I do want to ask you, conscious awareness.

How consciously aware because I see a lot that they know exactly what they're doing, you know, and I personally don't believe that I don't think narcissists are very conscious.

How can you live in fantasy and be consciously aware?

So, and so what is an overt narcissist, a little more consciously aware than a covert narcissist and psychopath?

So can you kind of just talk about conscious awareness a little bit?

I think there's a lot of confusion about about that because people, people conflate behaviors and actions with motivations.

All narcissists are fully aware of what they're doing. Fully aware of what they're doing. Because they're not delusional and they're not psychotic and they're not schizophrenic and they're not intellectually challenged. They know what they do.

A majority of narcissists are aware of the consequences of their actions. They think they are immune to these consequences. They think they're godlike. They're above the law. They're unlikely to get caught and they get very pissed off when this is proven wrong.

But the majority of narcissists know what they're doing and know where it's going to lead to and know understand the impact of their actions on other people. Actions, choices, decisions on other people.

However, extremely few narcissists understand why they behave the way they do. Very few narcissists understand the psychodynamic roots and psychological reasons for their choices, actions and decisions.

And so they are clueless when it comes to their internal processes. And so because they are clueless and because they are dissociative, they have memory gaps, they have problems with memory.

What they do is they confabulate. Confabulation is not lying. Lying is psychopathic. Lying is when you can tell the difference between fantasy and reality and then sell the fantasy to other people knowing full well that it's not reality.

That is what psychopaths do. The narcissists cannot tell the difference between fantasy and reality.

When the narcissist comes up with something that is not factual, he believes it. So if the narcissist tells you something about himself, something that has happened or they believe it, they firmly believe it and they defend it ferociously. If you dare to doubt it or whatever, they go at you when they lash out at you because they believe it.

So confabulation is when you try to bridge memory gaps and when you try to make sense of your actions, decisions and choices by inventing something, concocting something out of thin air and then fully believing it.

So for example, a narcissist would be extremely abusive and reduce you to tears. The narcissist knows that he's being abusive and sadistic and insulting and humiliating. He fully realizes this.

All narcissists do. They also realize that it's likely to make you sad, hurt, in pain. The majority of narcissists would understand this connection.

But then all narcissists would say, "I'm doing it for your own good. This is tough love. I'm just trying to help you." So they would create a justification of this misbehavior, of this abuse, of this torture, a justification. Then they come to believe this justification.

Although we know in clinical psychology, we know that they're doing it because they are, for example, sadistic or because they're controlling or because there's nothing to do with tough love or any kind of love.

And it's not for your own. It's nothing to do with you actually because they are unable to perceive external object.

But the overwhelming vast majority of narcissists would tell you, "I'm doing this for your own good." Example.

So another example, a narcissist would say, "I know that I'm abrasive. I know that I'm a humiliate people. I know that I shouted people. I know that I put them down. I know this.

But this gives me a competitive advantage. This renders me efficient. This makes me productive." So they're proud. They are what we call emotionally invested. They're affected. They're emotionally invested in the disorder. They say, "Without my narcissism, without the way I am, if I were not the way I am, I would not have been that creative. If I were not the way I am, I would not be that productive, that prolific, that amazing, that I wouldn't have been a winner. I would have been a loser."

So this glorification and glamorizing of the disorder is an example of confabulation. But confabulation can be much more basic.

The narcissist starts at point A and he finds himself at point D. And points B and C are missing. He has a memory, a short circuit. It's known as dissociation.

So the narcissist tells himself, "I remember being in point A, and now I'm in point D. What could have happened? What most likely has happened? What is the most plausible explanation for this transition from A to D? Ah, it must have been Q."

And then he tells you, "I started in A, I transitioned through Q, and I ended in D." And then if you tell him, "But you couldn't have transitioned through Q, because I have proof that you were in point Z, not Q." He would attack you. He would say that you're lying, manipulating. They would deny written evidence. They would deny recordings, video recordings. They would deny everything and anything, because the confabulation is perceived as reality.

One last thing before we say goodbye, and this is the four S's.

There is a myth online that narcissists, the narcissist chooses you because somehow you're special. It's a self-aggrandizing myth propagated by the so-called empaths, which in my view, the vast majority of our covert narcissists, that's true. I see that.

But there is a myth that you're chosen. Especially because of your qualities and of course superior politics, because it's self-aggrandizing. So you are super empathic, you are amazingly nice and kind, wonderful and special and angelic and blamish less and blameless and so on and so forth. And that's why the narcissist chooses you.

Narcissists don't care who you are because narcissists cannot perceive external objects. Moreover, if you're truly empathic and loving, the narcissist would perceive this as a weakness. It would disgust him.

Narcissists are disgusted by love and empathy, because this shows that you're a weak person. It's a vulnerability. You're not chosen because of who you are. You're chosen because of what you can give the narcissist.

And what you can give the narcissist is summed up in my rule of four S's.

Six services, supply, narcissistic and sadistic and safety, being there, present, never abandoning the narcissist. These are the four things.

If you give the narcissist two of these four, you're in to qualify. Two of these four, sex and services, services and safety, safety and supply, supply and sex. Any two of these four, you're in, you've got the job, you pass the job interview. Who you are is meaningless. That's why narcissists end up with border lines, with other narcissists, with psychopaths, with nice, kind and perfect people, with people pleasers, with co-dependence, with borderline, you name it. Narcissists are indiscriminate abusers, equal opportunity abusers.

Yeah, I got it. I see that on the online space. And it's being told what you want to hear to make you feel better, I think, to get out of a dark space. I get why it exists.

Do you have time maybe for one more? Is narcissistic personality disorder an attachment style within itself?

No. Narcissistic personality disorder is a severe mental health impairment. But it is true that an overwhelming majority of narcissists have what we call insecure attachment styles. There are several such attachment styles, fearful, avoidant and so on. Irregular.

So these attachment styles are typical of narcissists, not only of narcissists, they're typical of narcissists.

Now there's generally a god-awful confusion between traits, styles, and the disorder. So for example, you have online self-styled experts with and without academic degrees. And I'm saying self-styled because they don't know what they're talking about, because they're not experts on narcissism. Even if you have a PhD in psychology, that doesn't make you an expert on narcissism. Right, I see that a lot. They say, for example, all psychopaths are narcissists, which is utter unmitigated trash. A small percentage of psychopaths are also narcissists.

But what is common to narcissists and psychopaths is grandiosity. Grandiosity is a trait. It's a cognitive distortion actually. And it's common to borderline also to bipolar disorder, also to paranoid disorder. It's a trait. It's not narcissism. Grandiosity is not narcissism.

Similarly, an insecure attachment style is not narcissism. It's common to narcissism, but also to psychopaths, also to borderline, also to paranoid, also to schizoid, schizoid personality disorder, also and also and also.

It's like ingredients in food. You can find salt in many foods. That you find salt in two foods doesn't make them the same food.

Yeah, that's what I'm seeing. And also, some attachment styles can have some traits that are abusive. So it's kind of because everybody's becoming self-styled, it's becoming a little bit of a mess.

Out there, it's a huge mess. I mean, I'm spending all my time on YouTube and trying to correct things. Gaslighting is misunderstood. Everything is bloodiness. I think we have to say goodbye before we are cut abruptly and rudely. It was a pleasure. Thank you for doing this with me. Thank you for having me.

And I'll see you on YouTube. Please send me by email your details. I want to place them in the description.

Okay, I will do that. Instagram and everything. Okay?

Okay. All right. It was a pleasure. Take care. Bye, professor.

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